For the past three+ years I have had the honor of representing the worldwide Piper Dealer network in the quarterly Piper Board of Directors’ meetings. When Piper made the decision several years ago to vacate the single-engine jet market the obvious question was “now what?” From significant amounts of customer input the mandate put forward was that the platform and the powerplant mattered much less than the range/payload profile, and that profile called for at least 800 pounds in the cabin moving at least 1,000 NM at high-speed cruise with reserves. And if the platform utilized the PA46 airframe the VMO had to be much higher than its current 188 knots.
The result is the airplane that Piper introduced with great fanfare on April 13th, with one exception. The new M600 significantly exceeds the mandate. You can read the press coverage or contact Skytech for the specifics, but in a nutshell what you will find is a guaranteed range of 1200 NM (with an expectation of 1300 NM) with 660 pounds in the cabin, or a guaranteed 1,000 NM+ (at high-speed cruise with reserves) with 800 pounds in the cabin. And the airplane is operationally much faster because the VMO is 250 knots. Cruise is projected to be 260 knots (but let Piper finish the certification testing to get the final number; maybe we get a surprise). Mission accomplished. Literally.
You will also find the Garmin 3000 avionics system which is currently available only on the HondaJet, two units in the Citation line, and optionally on the Phenom 300. A review of Skytech's videos of the M500 Flight Control System and Telephone / E-mail / Text systems might be in order because all of the Loss of Control inhibitors inherent to the M500 are incorporated into the M600 (click here for videos). But the M600 also features an automated Emergency Descent Mode. A condensed description of it is that the aircraft will monitor periods of inactivity by the pilot if the cabin altitude is above 12,000 ft. and if it suspects that the pilot has become incapacitated it will ask if you are alert. If you do not respond appropriately the M600 will automatically descend the M600 to 12,500 feet and wait for you to “wake up” (and, as an aside, the new M350 has the same features).
And those are just the M600's basics. The warranty is much longer. The radar is solid state and automated. It has an entirely new wing that holds 260 gallons of fuel. The interior is just plain cool. The fuel flows are very similar to the Meridian. The Instrument panel is totally redesigned, as are the crew armrests. The seats are more comfortable. The radar can display its returns over your flight path. It is ADS-B compliant. Approach plates can be on the PFD if you like. It has touch screens. There is a 3D audio panel (go take a demo and you’ll understand). It is much easier to maintain. And on and on. I won't take your time to detail what the G3000 does just by itself, but unless you have been flying a G650 lately this airplane will blow you away.
Currently there are three conforming production units in flight test and the first unit flew nearly a year ago. Certification and the first deliveries are expected in the Fourth Quarter of this year. Or, like the first mandate, maybe we get a pleasant surprise.
Welcome to the new M Class.